Friday, April 18, 2014
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Neal Pratt, left, chair of the board of trustees of the Cumberland County Civic Center, and Ron Cain, majority owner of the Portland Pirates, announce the signing of a five-year contract Tuesday for the Pirates to play at the civic center.
Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer
The breakdown in negotiations had led to criticism that the trustees were being intransigent, after the county’s voters had approved the renovation. The project was pitched, at least in part, as a way to give the Pirates a better place to play and improve the experience for fans. It is scheduled to wrap up this month.
In December, the Portland Regional Chamber called on its members to apply for four open seats on the nine-member board of trustees, in an effort to move the negotiations along.
Forty-four people applied for board seats. The trustees in three of those seats – including Pratt – sought reappointment, and eventually the county commissioners, who appoint the trustees, delayed their decision on who would fill those seats until April.
Chris Hall, the chamber’s CEO, said the new lease proves that the two sides simply had to resume talking to each other. “In a commercial negotiation, it’s never over,” he said.
Hall said the Pirates bring thousands of people downtown for games 35 times a year, and those people spend money in bars, restaurants, hotels and stores in the heart of winter, when business is usually at its slowest.
“This is millions and millions of dollars of economic activity every year,” Hall said, “not just for the bars and merchants in the immediate area, but for the whole region.”
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: